Exhaust System Parts 101: What Are the Different Components of an Exhaust System?

exhaust parts

Exhaust System Parts 101: What Are the Different Components of an Exhaust System?

What makes one vehicle louder than the next? How can cars reduce emissions despite the staggering amount in which we drive them from place to place? It all comes down to your vehicle's exhaust system, or rather, the several components that make up the anatomy of an exhaust system. Your exhaust is hidden underneath your vehicle, so it's easy not to think about it too often (unless you're a car enthusiast obsessed with boosting performance capabilities.) However, just because an exhaust system is easy to ignore doesn't mean you should. It's important to understand the separate parts of an exhaust system to get more in tune with your vehicle. That way, if any exhaust system components fail, you'll be better prepared to talk to a mechanic. Or even better, you'll know which part to order to have a high chance of fixing the problem yourself. In this article, we'll discuss all the exhaust system parts you should know to get a better picture of your exhaust as a whole.

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Table of Contents

The Exhaust Manifold

> The Exhaust Pipes

> The Catalytic Converter

> The Resonator Muffler

> The Oxygen Sensors

> The Tailpipe

exhaust parts 101 infographic

The Exhaust Manifold

Let's start our tour of exhaust system parts from the front with the exhaust manifold. As one of the first exhaust system components in the complete system, the exhaust manifold attaches directly to your vehicle's engine block. Your engine block contains the cylinders and the cylinder head, which are the parts that create the combustion chamber where oxygen and fuel are burned. An exhaust manifold is able to filter toxic fumes the combustion produces through its aluminum, cast iron or stainless steel pipes before flowing into the next component. Exhaust manifolds are essential parts of a car exhaust system – if they begin to malfunction, your exhaust valves will fatigue, crack and ultimately fail, negatively affecting your engine performance.

exhaust parts

The Catalytic Converter

Once the excess gases exit the exhaust manifold, they make their way through the mid-pipe to another crucial exhaust system component: the catalytic converter. First introduced in 1975, catalytic converters are now standard exhaust system parts present in all modern vehicles. Catalytic converters help control emissions by converting toxic exhaust gases into water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. These essential parts of the exhaust system can sometimes be integrated into the exhaust manifold, but they are often attached to a vehicle's mid-pipe. If your catalytic converter is failing, you need to replace it as soon as possible. Without any form of emission control, toxic exhaust gases can seep into your vehicle and cause you health problems. Not to mention, driving without this part of the exhaust system is entirely illegal. Don't just remove it and forget about it – unless you want a hefty fine.

The Oxygen Sensors

Oxygen sensors are exhaust system parts that electronically measure and record the amount of oxygen in the exhaust gases leaving the engine. All modern vehicles have two oxygen sensors: upstream and downstream sensors. These parts of the exhaust system are located in two separate locations. Upstream sensors sit just before the catalytic converter, while downstream sensors sit just after the converter. The engine computer (also called the powertrain control module or PCM) uses data from the upstream sensor to regulate the engine's fuel mixture for maximum fuel economy. At the same time, the PCM uses the data from the downstream sensor to monitor the health of the catalytic converter.

car exhaust pipe

Oxygen sensors are essential car exhaust system components vital to any well-performing vehicle. Without them, you could burn tons of excess fuel without even knowing, or worse, drive around with a faulty catalytic converter without getting a check engine light to alert you that something is wrong.

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The Exhaust Pipes

Throughout your vehicle's exhaust system, several different exhaust pipes carry the exhaust gases from the engine to the back of the vehicle. Most stock systems treat these exhaust system parts as secondary connector pipes that only serve to move gases from one exhaust system component to the next. However, car enthusiasts know that aftermarket mid-pipes, downpipes and tailpipes serve a much greater purpose and help increase performance through the wider-diameter, mandrel-bent tubing that helps exhaust gases flow faster than ever before.

The Resonator & Muffler

Mufflers are some of the most commonly known exhaust system parts, even among non-enthusiast vehicle owners. Their primary function is to silence (or, as the name implies, muffle) any loud combustion noises that come from your engine. Inside these exhaust system components, there is a perforator and resonator chamber which use air to evaporate the sound waves produced by the engine.

The Tailpipe

The final component of any exhaust system is the tailpipe. These exhaust system parts come straight from the muffler past the rear bumper and direct the exhaust gases out into the atmosphere. On many modern cars, tailpipes are highly decorative and can add a touch of flair.

car exhaust pipe

Find Trusted Aftermarket Exhaust System Parts & Components at CORSA

Now that you know all the parts of an exhaust system and their functions, you'll have a better understanding of what you need to replace when you think your vehicle is having problems. Even more, you can replace your stock exhaust system components with aftermarket upgrades that provide a significant boost in your performance and give you a better ride overall. Here at CORSA PERFORMANCE, we have a massive selection of aftermarket exhaust systems for vehicles of all types to provide you with an edge over vehicle owners who play it safe and stick with stock. Aftermarket exhaust system components are manufactured from higher-quality materials and designed strictly for optimizing your performance. As leaders in the automotive industry for over 25 years, CORSA is a brand you can trust. View our entire selection of cat-back and axle-back exhaust systems, mufflers, tailpipes and more today.

If you have any questions about specific aftermarket exhaust system parts for your vehicle, feel free to contact us at any time. Our expert team is always standing by and ready to help. Don't settle for stock. Choose CORSA PERFORMANCE.

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